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Annu Rev Plant Biol. 2009;60:561-88. doi: 10.1146/annurev.arplant.043008.092039.

The role of hybridization in plant speciation.

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  • 1The Genetics Institute, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32611, USA. psoltis@flmnh.ufl.edu


The importance of hybridization in plant speciation and evolution has been debated for decades, with opposing views of hybridization as either a creative evolutionary force or evolutionary noise. Hybrid speciation may occur at either the homoploid (i.e., between two species of the same ploidy) or the polyploid level, each with its attendant genetic and evolutionary consequences. Whereas allopolyploidy (i.e., resulting from hybridization and genome doubling) has long been recognized as an important mode of plant speciation, the implications of genome duplication have typically not been taken into account in most fields of plant biology. Recent developments in genomics are revolutionizing our views of angiosperm genomes, demonstrating that perhaps all angiosperms have likely undergone at least one round of polyploidization and that hybridization has been an important force in generating angiosperm species diversity. Hybridization and polyploid formation continue to generate species diversity, with several new allopolyploids having originated just within the past century or so. The origins of polyploid species-whether via hybridization between species or between genetically differentiated populations of a single species-and the immediate genetic consequences of polyploid formation are therefore receiving enthusiastic attention. The time is therefore right for a review of the role of hybridization in plant speciation.

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